The American Lung Association is sharing inspiring stories from individuals who have been able to end their addiction to tobacco and stop smoking through #TheDayIQuit blog series. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it is possible—and we firmly believe that anyone can quit with the right support. If you, or someone you know, would like to quit smoking, share with them the new, interactive Freedom From Smoking® Plus.
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I started smoking when I was 16 years old and continued for 38 years. I was recently asked how often I smoked, but the better question is "When didn't I smoke?" I guess everyone has to sleep sometime.
Facing some health issues, I decided to make myself a priority and get weight loss surgery. I was told I had to quit smoking to see any improvements to my health. I was extremely scared, like most smokers. I tried everything to quit short of duct taping my mouth. I tried hypnosis, cold turkey, etc.—but I always felt like I was quitting for someone else instead of for me. I attended an American Lung Association Freedom From Smoking® group clinic at the hospital and started nicotine replacement therapy, which helped take the edge off my cravings. I was determined to make this my final time quitting.
With all other attempts, I stopped smoking for a while, but this time I quit for good! Two of my favorite mantras that helped me get through were "This craving will pass, whether I smoke or not" and "One cigarette is too many and 100 isn't enough." I knew my addiction was so strong that one drag would lead me back to a carton in a New York minute. The last day I smoked was June 20, 2013, and I celebrate each year, month and day that I'm smokefree.
It's amazing the difference in my health and my outlook. Everything tastes and smells so much better and I'm not fighting for my breath, I'm fighting for a healthier life. Now the cravings are gone, I am finally stronger than my addiction. It was difficult but worth it in the long run. The freedom of knowing that I don't have to make smoking my priority is an amazing feeling. The day I quit was the day that smoking no longer controlled my life.
I've been asked to speak at many quit-smoking classes and I like to leave the class with this: If I can quit smoking after all that time, then so can you. When you're tired of making excuses and listening to the nay-saying of your addiction, you'll prove to yourself that you're much stronger than you ever believed you could be. I'm proud to call myself a non-smoker!